We can't seem to stop talking about National Parks, and outdoor adventures....why should we, when that's what we do for a living? With 2016 celebrating 100 years of our good ol' parks services, we feel humbled at what these sacred lands have to offer, and continue to give back to protect them. We have launched our Black Rock, and Southern Utah desert escapes for our clients,(offered only once a year) and yes they include unique adventures on our national lands. We look forward to you joining us on a pop up luxury camping adventure, but in the meantime you can whet you appetite on the 10 national parks experiences.
Travelers typically speak of Yellowstone, Yosemite or the Grand Canyon with a sense of reverence. These, along with the other 398 units managed by theNational Park Service, preserve special places with spectacular landscapes and memorable activities. Some park experiences are well-known, such as rafting down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon or strolling Yellowstone'sUpper Geyser Basin to witness the eruption of Old Faithful. But plenty of others are often overlooked. Here, David and Kay Scott, authors of Guide to the National Park Areas: Eastern States and Guide to the National Park Areas: Western States, select 10 unique activities in America's national parks that are especially rewarding.
1. Take a full-moon walk at Devils Tower National Monument, Wyoming.
Before it became the centerpiece of the popular movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we camped in the monument during the night of a full moon. What luck! At dusk we joined a ranger-led walk that ended an hour and a half later when we climbed a rise and came upon the view of a brilliant full moon glistening beside Devils Tower. It is a sight we have never forgotten. nps.gov/deto
2. Stroll the beach at Cumberland Island National Seashore, Georgia.
Georgia's southernmost barrier island boasts one of the East Coast's most magnificent beaches. Because the seashore is reached only by boat, you can enjoy a solitary stroll along a wide beach spotted with shells, sand dollars and starfish. A concessionaire-operated passenger boat offers scheduled transportation to the island from the small village of St. Marys. Enjoy a guided tour in the historic Dungeness Historic District and visit Plum Orchard, an 1890s mansion once owned by the Carnegies. nps.gov/cuis
3. Visit Fort Laramie National Historic Site during the annual Fur-Trading Days, Wyoming.
Once the headquarters of the American Fur Trading Company, Fort Laramie later became an important military fort and a stop on the Oregon Trail. Each Father's Dayweekend, the historic site and nearby town of Fort Laramie present an event in which participants in historical dress relive the fort's glory years when it served as a major hub for the fur trade. nps.gov/fola
4. Ride a Red Jammer on Glacier National Park's Going-to-the-Sun Road, Montana.
National parks offer a number of impressive mountain roads, but none is better than Glacier's Going-to-the-Sun Road that crosses the Rocky Mountains of northern Montana. Save wear and tear on your own vehicle and gain better views of the surrounding landscape by choosing one of the free shuttles or paying for a tour on one of the park's famous "Reds," buses used to transport visitors. The shuttle service is available to the Logan Pass Visitor Center from both the west and east sides of the park. nps.gov/glac
5. Drive the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina and Virginia.
The Blue Ridge Parkway offers 469 miles of some of the most beautiful scenery in the eastern United States. The parkway's 45-mph speed limit results in a trip of two or more days to cover the entire length, depending on the number of stops along the way. Three park lodges along the parkway provide overnight accommodations. Make a pit stop at iconic Mabry Mill and order a plate of buckwheat pancakes or biscuits and gravy before visiting the historic water-power grist mill. Take along a cooler so you can stop and enjoy a picnic or two at one or more of the many scenic overlooks.blueridgeparkway.org
6. Take a guided 4x4 tour along the back roads of Big Bend National Park, Texas.
This isolated park along the Rio Grande is an off-roader's paradise, with dozens of miles of both improved and primitive dirt roads through one of the most stark but beautiful landscapes anywhere. Rugged cliffs surround the park's Chisos Basin area, where you'll find a lodge and nearby campground. Camping also is available at a developed campground on the Rio Grande. Enjoy a dip in the thermal waters of Langford Hot Springs. visitbigbend.com
7. Canoe the Buffalo National River, Arkansas.
The free-flowing Buffalo National River, America's first national river, originates in the Boston Mountains of northwest Arkansas and winds 135 miles in a jagged eastward path across the northern part of the state. The river's rural landscape, filled with oak and hickory forests frequently bordered with impressive limestone bluffs, makes for a scenic canoe or kayak trip. Fifteen NPS-approved concessionaires offer canoe and kayak rentals along with shuttle service. Prices typically run $40 to $60 a day. A list of concessionaires is available at nps.gov/buff
8. Ride a snow coach during a winter visit to Yellowstone, Wyoming/Montana/Idaho.
There's nothing quite like visiting America's first national park during the winter. The crowds are gone, wildlife is more easily visible, and the beauty of the park is simply stunning. Only two of the park's nine lodges, Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, are open during the winter months. Scheduled public transportation is available from Bozeman to West Yellowstone, where snow coaches carry visitors to the Old Faithful area. The northern road to Mammoth remains open during winter. Snow coach tours to the beautiful Canyon area are available from both Mammoth and Old Faithful and connect Old Faithful with Mammoth. yellowstonepark.com
9. Visit Death Valley's mysterious Racetrack Playa, California.
One of the highlights of a visit to Death Valley National Park is a trip to the Racetrack, where rocks mysteriously move and leave trails along a dry lakebed. A number of theories attempt to explain the movement, which no one has actually observed. Visiting the Racetrack requires a drive of 26 miles over rough road, preferably in a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Jeep rentals are available at Furnace Creek. Lodging is offered at four locations in the park. Inside the park, don't miss the impressive 600-foot-deep, half-mile-wide Ubehebe Crater, the remains of a volcanic eruption. nps.gov/deva
10. Cruise Glacier Bay in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska.
One of Alaska's most accessible national parks, Glacier Bay boasts rugged snow-capped mountains surrounding sheltered water that provides access to tidewater glaciers and wildlife sightings such as puffins, otters and grizzly bears. Best of all is the thunder of tidewater glaciers as they calve into the bay. Day-long cruises are offered from the dock at Glacier Bay Lodge in Bartlett Cove. In the evening, enjoy an exciting whale-watching cruise. The park is accessible by tour boat or scheduled air service from Alaska's capital of Juneau. visitglacierbay.com
Contact David and Kay Scott at valdosta.edu/~dlscott/Scott
*Originally posted on USA Today.
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